February 8, 2019
Former NCAA Division 1 coach comes by way of DePaul University, where he was the men’s head coach for 17 years.
Fenwick High School has hired veteran college soccer coach Craig Blazer as the head coach of its boys’ soccer program. Blazer served as the head men’s coach at DePaul University from 2001-17. He replaces Dan Hussey, who served as the Friars’ boys interim head coach last season.
“We feel quite fortunate to be able to bring on a soccer strategist with the breadth of Coach Blazer’s experience,” said Fenwick athletic director Scott Thies, a ’99 alumnus of the school. “He was very successful collegiately at DePaul, and we look forward to him bringing his winning ways to our kicking Friars of Fenwick.” Blazer knows the sport’s fundamentals for teenagers, too, according to Thies. “Craig is a club soccer instructor for FC United out of Glenview [IL], where he works with high school-age athletes, and also runs his own youth soccer training programs for boys and girls.”
Blazer, who grew up in the Cincinnati area and coached at La Salle Catholic (high school) there, addressed his new team Thursday after school: “I want to thank Mr. Thies for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing the traditions of academic and athletic excellence at Fenwick.”
Coach Blazer (center) met with members of the Fenwick boys’ soccer program on Thursday, February 7, 2019.
During his 17 seasons with the Blue Demons, 232 of Blazer’s student-athletes were named to the Big East Conference All-Academic Team and he coached 10 All-Big East players, including a Goalkeeper of the Year. He guided DePaul to seven Big East Tournament appearances, advancing to the semifinals twice. Blazer was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2007, the year his team went 12-8-0 (7-4-0) and made the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. The Blue Demons beat No. 2 Connecticut as well as No. 21 Louisville and secured their first-ever ranking (No. 17) in the Soccer America Top 25 poll.
The ’07 team also excelled in the classroom, earning the Big East Team Academic Award, which they would also go on to win in 2009. One of the top academic program’s in the country under Blazer, DePaul claimed the NSCAA’s Team Academic Award every year from 2005-16 and finished with the third highest grade-point average in the country in 2009. The Blue Demons garnered the United Soccer Coaches Team Award in 2017 after the NSCAA renamed the organization that summer.
Several of his DePaul players received national awards, including three National Soccer Coaches of America Association (NSCAA) Scholar All-Americans, one ESPN Academic All-American and one Loewe’s Senior CLASS All-American. In addition, DePaul had 19 NSCAA Scholar All-Region selections, six NSCAA All-Region performers and one ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honoree.
Along with his collegiate coaching career, Blazer worked with the U.S. National teams from 1993-2001, which included the 2000 United States Olympic squad that competed in Sydney, Australia, and advanced to the semifinals. Leading up to the 2000 Olympics, Blazer worked with members of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sydney Organizing Committee Olympic Games and Federation International Football Association (FIFA). He managed all 19 pre-Olympic events, including matches in Brazil, England, Portugal, Spain and the 2000 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hershey, PA.
Blazer also has been involved with youth soccer at all levels and assists with the Illinois Olympic Development Program as a member of the Region II staff. He earned his “A” License from the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2000 and coached at Cincinnati’s Fairfield High School in 1992. While playing collegiately at Xavier, he was an assistant coach at La Salle High School, his alma mater, from 1987-91.
Blazer graduated in 1991 with degrees in political science and communications from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a player, he was a goalkeeper. Craig and his wife, Claudia, reside in Chicago with their two sons and two daughters.